How Do Children Get Cerebral Palsy?

Saturday, August 6, 2022

How Do Children Get Cerebral Palsy?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Cerebral palsy (CP) may result from asphyxia (a lack of oxygen) or, more likely, is due to a series of events that injure the fetus’s developing brain. For instance, prematurity is one of the risk factors associated with CP. However, an event sequence, or causal pathways, which leads to a premature birth may lead to a brain injury.

In many cases, the brain is injured in the uterus or before a child turns one month old. An infant or child over one-month-old often develops CP from a heart complication that leads to a stroke. However, CP may also emerge because of medical malpractice – something that many parents are surprised to learn.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor does not keep the pregnant mother safe to the best of his or her ability. In other words, he or she does not use the same level of care that most medical doctors would take, given the same responsibility.  If you believe your child’s CP resulted from medical malpractice, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a permanent brain injury that can happen before, during or after birth. This injury does not get worse over time, and doctors do not consider it a disease. Cerebral palsy can be caused by a variety of factors, including lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain and premature birth. Negligence during labor, delayed C-sections and negligence to an infant in distress can also all cause cerebral palsy. Medication errors can often cause cerebral palsy as well.

Cerebral Palsy represents a motor disability that affects a person’s coordination and movements. While “cerebral” refers to the brain, “palsy” defines muscle weakness.

CP happens from brain damage or abnormal brain development – which affects muscle control. Children who have CP may need to use special equipment to assist them with walking or may need lifelong care. While CP will not worsen, the symptoms may change as people get older. Many people with CP struggle with posture and movement or may experience intellectual disabilities, including problems with speech, hearing, or vision. Scoliosis may be a symptom, as well as contractures involving joint movement. Some children with CP suffer from seizures.

How CP Affects Patients

Doctors may classify CP in various ways, depending on the movements involved and the affected areas of the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a child may experience one or more of the following:

  • Stiff muscles, known as spasticity
  • Dyskinesia, or uncontrollable movements
  • Ataxia, or problems with coordination and balance

Types of Cerebral Palsy

The four primary types of CP include:

  1. Spastic CP, which affects most people. Because patients have enhanced tone, they experience stiff muscles and awkward movements.
  2. Dyskinetic CP involves trouble with controlling movement of the feet, legs, arms, and hands, which makes it difficult to walk or sit. In some cases, the patient may have trouble with speech or swallowing.
  3. Ataxic CP causes patients to have problems with coordination and balance, making them unsteady when they attempt to walk. They may find it difficult to control their arms or hands when they try to reach for an item.
  4. Mixed Cerebral Palsy includes a combination of the above-mentioned types of CP. The most common type of mixed CP is spastic-dyskinetic CP.

Malpractice and CP

CP may result from malpractice in different ways:

  • If brain damage occurs during delivery or birth complications lead to a deprivation of oxygen, a baby may end up with CP.
  • Malpractice may also result if a doctor does not diagnose certain health problems during a woman’s pregnancy. In these cases, an infection–which is overlooked during pregnancy–may lead to brain damage and CP.
  • In other cases, a doctor may cut off the oxygen for the baby during delivery or soon after the birthing process. Some physicians may not treat a complication with the umbilical cord or properly address a birth canal delay.
  • Infants frequently have jaundice after they’re born. This condition, which causes the eyes and skin to turn yellow, can turn into a condition called kernicterus. This condition may lead to brain damage and CP if not treated properly.

How Common is Cerebral Palsy?

Luckily, cerebral palsy is relatively uncommon; still, it is not impossible for newborns to get this injury. Every two out of 1,000 people have cerebral palsy.  While it is more difficult to determine the exact cause of a child’s cerebral palsy, a birth injury lawyer can meet with doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to investigate their practices to see if their negligence caused your child’s injury.

What are the Complications of Cerebral Palsy?

One of every two children living with cerebral palsy develops seizures, and up to 50 percent have some level of mental retardation. Half of those with cerebral palsy will also have strabismus. Most commonly, children with cerebral palsy have increased difficulty walking, with some not being able to walk on their own.

What Should I do if I Think Medical Staff Caused my Child’s Cerebral Palsy?

If you think medical staff did not take enough steps to protect you and your baby and allowed for a preventable mistake, like lack of oxygen at birth, you may need legal assistance from a birth injury lawyer.

While not all cases of cerebral palsy are the result of doctors and nurses’ negligence during the birth of a child, in some instances, they are. If your child has cerebral palsy, he or she may have medical bills totaling thousands of dollars for the rest of his or her life. If your child’s cerebral palsy could have been preventable, you both deserve justice.

Contact a Malpractice Attorney in Chicago About Your Case Right Away

If you believe your baby developed CP because of medical malpractice, you need to find a Cerebral Palsy malpractice attorney in Chicago to discuss your case. He or she can give you more information about filing this type of negligence claim.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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